Department of History
The Historian's Craft
Dr. Stacy A. Cordery
Wallace Hall L-6
Office phone: 2372
Office hours: M & W 10:00-11:00 a.m.; M, W & F noon to 1:00 p.m.; T, R noon to 12:30 p.m., and by appointment, gladly.
This course was created because of student demand. Senior and junior history majors in the spring of 2005 said that had they been introduced to historical methodology, including the fine art of writing a research paper, they would have considered graduate school in history and would have done better in their required HIST 300 course as well. Many of the topics we will cover this semester were suggested by those same students and by those in the fall 2005 pilot course, and then in later iterations of the class.
This course provides an introduction to the ways in which historians conceptualize the past, conduct research, and write through the study of good historical writing. Guest historians will come to speak about their particular fields of history. The centerpiece of the course will be a research paper through which students will learn the varieties of approaches historians take as they formulate questions, select sources, analyze documents, take notes, and draft and complete research papers.
To introduce you to the ways in which historians conceptualize, engage, and write about the past.
To learn about the varieties and nuances specific to various fields of history.
To evaluate the usefulness of various sorts of historical sources.
To produce a research paper as practice in the process of identifying a problem and the resources needed to solve it; researching in the appropriate primary and secondary sources; preparing an hypothesis; and writing and editing a fully documented, tightly argued historical essay.
To assist each other with these endeavors.
Assignments and Grading
In this class, your major grade will come from the research paper (200 points), the midterm exam (100 points), the final in-class exam (50 points) and from various exercises outlined on the syllabus. Your artifact paper will be worth 50 points. Your library scavenger hunt will be worth bonus points. There may be other extra credit opportunities. More points will likely be added as the semester goes on. Certainly pop quizzes will be given over the reading if it becomes apparent that students have not done the reading assigned.
Because this class is a seminar, your colleagues depend upon you to enrich their learning experiences. That means you must show up, participate, and give the same kind of positive feedback that you, yourself, would find most helpful. To that end, this class has a strict attendance policy: After the third unexcused absence (and going home early before holidays is unexcused), you will fail the course.
Richard Marius and Melvin E. Page, A Short Guide to Writing About History
Bradford Brown, Creating History Papers
H-Histmajor: please subscribe asap: http://www.h-net.org/~hstmajor/
Please bring both books to every class meeting, except when we have guest lecturers.